Arsenal had been big fans of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for years prior to his arrival in North London. As the Gunners commenced their search for a new striker after Robin Van Persie’s departure, on a regular basis, As reported by The Athletic, Aubameyang appeared at the top of the list of recommendations from Arsenal’s recruitment database ‘StatDNA’. However, the main queries concerning Aubameyang revolved around his lifestyle. From the outside looking in, he looks a flashy individual, one who doesn’t take his job too seriously. Far from leadership material. Oh, how emphatically he has proved those doubters wrong.
Sven Mislintat decided that January 2018 was the perfect time to start his raid of his former employers, Borussia Dortmund. He identified Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the ideal strike partner for Alex Lacazette. The club were enamored by the prospect of Mesut Özil providing chances for a lethal duo ahead of him made up of two of European football’s most deadly forwards so broke the bank for Auba. Unfortunately, things haven’t quite panned out that way. Mesut Özil’s form has drastically dipped since his contract renewal and Arsenal have rarely played with a front two since Aubameyang’s arrival. Nonetheless, the Gabon International has still excelled.
It has been reported that Aubameyang signed for Arsenal with the view of working under Arsène Wenger for years to come. Obviously, Wenger left Arsenal after 2 decades of wonderful service just 6 months after he broke his transfer record for the second time in the space of a year to bring Aubameyang to North London. Still, Aubameyang’s return from his first half season with Arsenal certainly suggests Wenger and Aubameyang got on fairly well with each other. In just 12 League starts, Aubameyang notched 14 goal contributions. 10 goals, 4 assists. A brilliant start to life in red and white.
And it’s now clear that Wenger’s departure did not faze Auba. It did not make him any less committed to the Arsenal cause which he signed up to. New manager, same Aubameyang. The former Dortmund striker finished his first full Premier League season as top scorer and delivered some rather special performances along the way. His brace in the unforgettable 4-2 North London Derby win very much announced him as the club’s new talisman. Then, much later on in the season, a hat-trick at the Mestalla to send Arsenal to the Europa League final also stood out. It’s likely Unai Emery’s tenure at Arsenal would have been cut shorter even earlier than it was if it wasn’t for his goal scoring machine, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
This season, he’s continued to do his thing. His 29 goals in all competitions this season have been Arsenal’s saving grace. In a campaign of utter turmoil for Arsenal fans, Aubameyang has been a shining light. On a personal level, there’s a clear argument to suggest that this has been his best season yet. He’s developed into one of the world’s most clinical finishers. As per FBREF, this league season, he’s registered an expected goal total of 15.6 and has ended up scoring 22. He’s been feeding off scraps but has still been absolutely deadly in front of goal. He scores the easy goals and the difficult goals. He’s a truly elite striker.
However, it’s arguable that the most impressive component of Aubameyang’s Arsenal career thus far has been his work off the field. Those worries that some at Arsenal held concerning his attitude have been proved to have been foolish. Yes, his Instagram page and clothing may suggest he is something of a maverick, but his time at Arsenal has shown he is a proper team player. In spite of the lack of quality around him, he rarely shows frustration. Instead, his care-free façade has enabled him to grow strong bonds with those around him to try and make them better players. However, like any model professional, he also knows when to turn the serious face on (take notes Mattéo Guendouzi).
And despite the rather unfortunate circumstances which led to his confirmation as the club’s captain, it’s easy to see why Emery picked him. He is clearly far and away the most likeable character in the Arsenal dressing room. He may not be your typical captain in English football. The sort to be barking out orders and disciplining those around him. But that’s just not Aubameyang. Our number 14 leads his team in a very different manner. He’s the captain who leads his team through setting an example to those around him and through building friendships with them. He’s helping Mikel Arteta to introduce the incredibly high standards that the Spanish head coach wants to set. This is likely to be one of the reasons why Arteta wants to “build a team around” Aubameyang.
The only thing that I felt was missing from Aubameyang’s game prior to the past few weeks was the ability to turn up on the big occasion. The ability to perform when his club needed him the most. The final two games of this FA Cup campaign suggest that this weakness of Aubameyang’s game has been eradicated. His 4 goals in 2 games have not only secured Arsenal their 14th FA Cup but also European football. As a result, we are in a much better position to show ambition in the coming transfer window and have something to genuinely be excited about. At last, it feels that the trajectory that we have embarked upon as a club is upwards. And major credit has to go to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for that.
Please Auba, just sign it.